While most Americans were enjoying nonpolitical
fireworks and cookouts over the Fourth of July weekend,
8,923 delegates and 5,469 registered non-delegates to the
annual National Education Association (NEA) convention
were meeting in Atlanta to celebrate their political victories. This largest teachers union had so much to gloat
about that some of the trendy T-shirts sported the slogan
"We're molding the future."
Not only had they elected the presidential candidate
whom 91 percent of their delegates had voted to endorse
at last year's convention (Bill Clinton, of course), but they
were able to boast about remarkable victories in the two
landmark Republican Congresses, both the 104th and the
NEA speakers and convention materials related how
the NEA had been under fire from Congressional attacks
and Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole, who had
threatened to abolish the Department of Education. The
NEA bragged that the Association had counterattacked
with a "historic grassroots effort and legislative crisis
campaign" that "paid off."
Indeed it did. Congress reversed two years of record
cuts to education and, in September 1996, passed the
single, largest increase ever in federal education funding:
$3.5 billion. Education spending for FY 1997 is surpassing even Clinton's budget request.
The NEA's political work is as much about ideology
as harvesting increased tax dollars for public schools. The
NEA took credit for defeating the Parental Rights and
Responsibilities Act, all voucher bills, all attempts to
make English the official language of our public schools,
and all efforts to curtail Goals 2000, School-to-Work, or
affirmative action. The NEA is confident that Congress
will pass the Kennedy-Hatch KidCare bill, a giant step
toward the single-payer socialized medicine system that
the NEA has endorsed for years.
Before they left Atlanta, the NEA delegates endorsed
their usual tiresome roundup of non-academic, ultra-left
political policies, including funding for the National
Endowment for the Arts, public financing for public
broadcasting, statehood for the District of Columbia, the
education of children of illegal aliens, ratification of UN
treaties on women and children, and a national holiday
honoring Cesar Chavez.
A choir of young black singers sang four songs as part
of the convention's Fourth of July celebration, two secular
and two religious, one of which was "What a Mighty God
We Serve." The choir's outstanding performance received
a thunderous standing ovation. The next day, NEA
President Bob Chase apologized from the platform for the
two religious songs and stated emphatically that they had
not been cleared by the NEA.
NEA Launches Campaign for ERA.
The NEA has
embarked on a major drive to revive and ratify the Equal
Rights Amendment (ERA), which officially died on June
30, 1982. In addition to the usual resolution supporting
ERA, an expensively printed "Curriculum Guide" for use
in the schools and elsewhere was distributed to convention
delegates and discussed during a workshop held during the
NEA convention in Atlanta this year.
NEA resolutions have included support of ERA every
year since 1975 and, according to NEA materials, NEA
members participated in "massive efforts to win state
ratification within the time limitation -- and to win an
extension of that seven-year deadline to ten years." After
the deadline expired, the NEA continued its commitment
to reintroducing and passing ERA. In 1991, a New
Business Item directed the NEA to develop a curriculum
This guide contains eleven lesson plans to cover 18
class periods for grades 9 to 12, spelling out teacher
procedure, student activities, and homework. The content
of the guide contains the usual false argument made by the
pro-ERA advocates, i.e., that women were omitted from
the U.S. Constitution, as well as the usual excuse for the
failure of ERA, i.e., that the Stop ERA women were
"well-financed . . by corporate institutions, such as the
insurance industry." The guide omits most of the substantive arguments against ERA, and all the resources listed in
the guide (books, videos and organizations) are pro-ERA.
This year's New Business Item 23 imposes a duty on
the NEA to "collaborate with the ERA Summit in its effort
to achieve ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Collaboration will include representation at ERA Summit
meetings, establishing contacts in each state, and providing assistance in getting legislators to sponsor enabling
ERA Summit is the group of feminists who are
spearheading political activism for ERA. They have
developed the extraordinary theory that ERA is not dead
after all, that they can ignore the 1982 deadline, and that
ERA can become part of the U.S. Constitution if three
more states ratify it! They rely on "legal analysis" developed in 1995 by three third-year female law students at
the T.C. Williams School of Law in Richmond, Virginia.
The crux of their theory is that, since the Madison Amendment was ratified after 203 years (becoming the 27th
Amendment), that makes ERA viable, too. The problem
with that argument is that the Madison Amendment
contained no time limit, while ERA did.
In an interesting sidelight to the NEA's ERA campaign, the NEA's "powers that be" deleted the questions about ERA and abortion from the NEA-PAC 1998
Candidate Questionnaire. Some NEA delegates were
upset by this and introduced New Business Item 5 to
require the NEA-PAC to put the questions on ERA and
abortion back in the Questionnaire. The motion failed
after delegates were assured from the platform that this
omission is solely for tactical reasons, and that only pro-ERA and pro-abortion candidates will be supported by
NEA-PAC. No further explanation was given, but some
delegates commented that NEA-PAC officials apparently
believe it is damaging to their candidates to put them on
record in writing as pro-ERA and pro-abortion.
NEA-GLC Caucus Flaunts Its Power. Gay and
lesbian activists may have become the most influential
single group within the NEA convention. They distribute
their action plans displaying the NEA logo, they advertise
numerous caucuses and convention events, they flaunt
their buttons and booths, and they have succeeded in
weaving their agenda into about a dozen resolutions
passed by the nearly 9,000 convention delegates.
For several years, "diversity" has been the code word
for the gay/lesbian agenda. A one-word change in the
Diversity resolution this year is significant and telling.
Last year's resolution said that "education should increase
tolerance." This year, "tolerance" was changed to "acceptance." One of the handouts boasted: "Diversity is the
word and acceptance is the order."
The NEA Gay Lesbian Caucus (NEA-GLC) celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. Prior to 1987, the
handful of gays who attended the NEA convention
caucused under the name "Ichabod Crane Debating
Society." One of the delegates in Atlanta commented, "In
the '70s you couldn't even mention the words 'gay' or
'homosexual' without getting booed off the [convention]
They've come a long way since then. The NEA-GLC
newsletter boasted: "NEA Board hosts GLC leaders."
The NEA-GLC's headline attraction in Atlanta was
Candace Gingrich, lesbian sister of Newt. She spoke at
the caucus dinner on July 5 and was one of the personalities featured in a video shown at noon on the Fourth of
At another lesbian caucus, the big feature was a 90-minute video entitled "It's Elementary: Teaching About
Gay Issues in School." This video shows how psychological manipulation in the classroom can be used to change
children's home-taught attitudes and beliefs about homosexuality.
The NEA-GLC was not the only gay/lesbian caucus at
the Atlanta convention. The Gay, Lesbian & Straight
Teachers Network (GLSTN) advertised book and video
lists and internet resources, and the NEA Peace & Justice
Caucus promoted the video "It's Elementary," calling it
The NEA-GLC newsletters are informative. One
article, entitled "Bill Clinton deserves our support for
President," listed many examples of his "genuine commitment on our issues," such as, "Appointed gay/lesbian
friendly Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the U.S. Supreme Court."
Another article showed a picture of a New York City
protest with demonstrators carrying signs stating "Fact:
74% of NYC school kids don't have 'traditional' families."
The NEA's Human & Civil Rights Action Sheet
(marked with the NEA logo) sets forth the NEA's
gay/lesbian agenda, including the plans to change
classroom instruction, counseling programs, libraries,
school-wide events, in-service training, and attitudes. Its
blunt recommendations to teachers are:
- Work with the school district, the parent-teacher
organization, and community groups to provide
information to other members, parents, and counselors
about the developmental and health needs of gay,
lesbian, and bisexual students.
- Provide training to enable selected staff to become
resources to members on gay, lesbian, and bisexual
- Recommend to the school district that in-service
programs address gay, lesbian, and bisexual concerns;
and that the library include positive learning materials
about gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
- Encourage the establishment and maintenance of peer
support and community self-help programs for gay,
lesbian, and bisexual students.
- Work with the school district to develop or expand
school policy and curricula, including accurate
portrayals of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals throughout
history, and to ensure respect for diversity, including
gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.
- Participate in coalitions to improve support and
services for gay, lesbian, and bisexual students.
NEA Defeats Pro-Lifers Again. At every convention, the pro-lifers make an effort to move the NEA to a position of neutrality on abortion, believing that the giant teachers union should not lobby on one side of this vital issue.
This year, they proposed Amendment 8 to the NEA
Constitution which read: "To create a new section in
Bylaw 11 (General Finance) entitled Budget Restrictions
requiring the Secretary-Treasurer to ensure to the NEA
membership that no General Fund monies are expended
for abortion lobbying activities."
It failed by a vote of 2,408 to 5,748, which was 30%
to 70%. Prolifers were encouraged that their percentage
of support is increasing every year. In most previous
years, pro-life motions were subjected to various
shenanigans that denied them a fair vote.
NEA Declares War on "Radical Right." The NEA
convention adopted New Business Item 18, which requires
the NEA to "survey all state and local affiliates requesting
information they may have concerning the funding of
radical [right] groups by various corporate and family
foundations . . . and disseminate a list of such
organizations for information and possible boycott." The
word "right" was deleted during the floor debate, but there
is no doubt about the purpose of this directive.
Its stated rationale was that "corporate and foundation
funding has been key to the success of the radical right."
In response to a delegate who asked for a definition of the
term "radical," the chair responded, "Radicals are those
who are historically operating in our community to destroy
our school system and turn it over to individuals."
At a workshop on the "Radical Right" held during the
convention, a packet of materials was distributed giving
detailed information on 30 conservative, pro-family
organizations which the NEA labeled "radical right." This
packet also confirmed the close working relationship for
this strategy between the NEA and People for the
The NEA's Lobbying Program.
The NEA boasts in
its convention materials that the NEA "launched a historic
grassroots effort and legislative crisis campaign, designed
to rally member and public support for the cause of
education and the nation's children. The campaign,
which included television advertisements, editorial
coverage, radio actualities, and member telephone contact,
delivered the necessary public support to safeguard public
education and prevent proposed education cuts."
The NEA attributes its impressive legislative
successes to "the effectiveness of the Association's
grassroots network." The NEA states that, "over the
coming months, NEA and state affiliates will be working
collaboratively to identify grassroots coordinators and
member activists." NEA members are encouraged "to
volunteer to serve as grassroots activists."
The wealthy NEA provides plenty of organizational
back up for this grassroots activity. The NEA maintains
Government Relations field teams in Washington, D.C.
and in Denver, Colorado to work directly with state
affiliates and NEA members "to enhance their
effectiveness in political activities and legislative
NEA-financed Field Teams engage in "training,
strategic planning, and consultation with state and local
affiliates to increase their effective participation in federal
and state elections, ballot initiatives affecting public
education, and lobbying Congress and state legislatures."
During the past year, NEA staff have worked on state
legislative and ballot initiative issues, as well as on
training and organizing members to elect NEA candidates
in school board elections.
The NEA's "Information Resources and Advocacy"
program provides "a diverse range of information services
-- including political polling, message development,
policy development, and professional writing -- to help
advance the legislative and political advocacy objectives
of the Association." This Information Resources program
also works to advance NEA's legislative agenda and
resolutions "with elected and appointed public officials."
The NEA's Political Affairs program wages what it
calls "effective, unified campaigns to elect leaders, from
the school board to the White House, who are committed
to public education," i.e., the NEA political agenda. The
NEA-PAC brags that, in the 1996 campaign cycle, 60% of
the candidates it supported were victorious, and that NEA-PAC is preparing to elect record numbers of pro-education
candidates to state and federal office in 1998. The NEA-PAC ranks among the top 10 of the more than 4,000
political action committees.
A-12. Federal Financial Support for Education. The
Association believes that funding for federal programs should
be substantially increased.
A-14. Basic Financial Support of Public Education. Funds
must be provided for programs to alleviate race, gender, and
sexual orientation discrimination and to eliminate portrayal of
race, gender, and sexual orientation stereotypes in the public
A-18. Undocumented Immigrants. The National Education
Association believes that, regardless of the immigration status
of students or their parents, every student has the right to a free
public education in an environment free from harassment.
A-27. Federally or State-Mandated Choice/Parental
Option Plans. The Association opposes federally or state-mandated choice or parental option plans.
B-1. Early Childhood Education. The National Education
Association supports early childhood education programs in
the public schools for children from birth through age eight.
These programs should be available to all children on an equal
basis and should include mandatory kindergarten with
B-6. Diversity. The National Education Association believes
that our diverse society enriches all individuals. Similarities
and differences among races, ethnicity, color, national origin,
language, geographic location, religion, gender, sexual
orientation, age, physical ability, size, occupation, and marital,
parental, or economic status form the fabric of our society.
The Association also believes that education should increase
acceptance and foster an appreciation of the various qualities
that pertain to people as individuals or members of a group.
B-26. Multicultural Education. The National Education
Association believes that the goal of multicultural education is
the recognition of individual and group differences and
similarities in order to reduce racism, ethnic prejudices, and
discrimination and to develop self-esteem as well as respect for
B-27.Global Education. The National Education Association
believes that global education increases respect for and awareness of the earth and its people. Global education imparts
information about cultures and an appreciation of our
interdependency in sharing the world's resources to meet
mutual human needs.
B-33. Family Life Education. The Association believes that
education in these areas must be presented as part of an anti-biased, culturally-sensitive program.
B-34. Sex Education. The Association recognizes that the
public school must assume an increasingly important role in
providing the instruction. To facilitate the realization of
human potential, it is the right of every individual to live in an
environment of freely available information, knowledge, and
wisdom about sexuality.
B-35. AIDS Education. The National Education Association
recommends that educational institutions establish
comprehensive acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
education programs as an integral part of the school
B-63. Home Schooling. The National Education Association
believes that home schooling programs cannot provide the
student with a comprehensive education experience. The
Association believes that if parental preference home
schooling study occurs, students enrolled must meet all state
requirements. Instruction should be by persons who are
licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency,
and a curriculum approved by the state department of
education should be used.
C-7. Child Care. The National Education Association believes
that all child care centers should be examined and monitored
on a continuous basis, and additional legislation should be
sought as necessary to maintain the highest quality child care.
The Association encourages school districts and educational
institutions to establish on-site child care for preschoolers,
students, the children of students, and the children of staff
C-24. School Counseling Programs. The National
Education Association believes that guidance and counseling
programs should be integrated into the entire education system.
F-2. Pay Equity/Comparable Worth. The Association
supports all efforts to attain accurate and unbiased forms of job
evaluation and to raise the pay of those jobs that are presently
undervalued. The "market value" means of establishing pay
cannot be the final determinant of pay scales since it too
frequently reflects the race and sex bias in our society.
H-1. The Education Employee as a Citizen. The
Association believes that it is the duty and responsibility of
education employees to involve themselves in the selection,
election, and reelection of qualified, committed candidates who
support goals that will provide quality education. Therefore,
the Association urges its members to become politically
involved and to support the political action committees of the
Association and its affiliates.
H-6. National Health Care Policy. The Association supports
the adoption of a single-payer health care plan for all residents
of the United States, its territories, and the Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico. The Association will support health care reform
measures that move the United States closer to this goal.
H-10. Statehood for the District of Columbia. The
Association supports efforts to achieve statehood for the
District of Columbia.
I-1. Peace and International Relations. The National
Education Association recognizes the interdependence of all
I-3. International Court of Justice. The National Education
Association recognizes that the International Court of Justice
is one instrument to resolve international disputes peacefully.
The Association urges participation by the United States in
deliberations before the court.
I-11. Civil Rights. The Association calls upon Americans to
eliminate -- by statute and practice -- barriers of race, color,
national origin, religion, philosophical beliefs, political beliefs,
gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, size, marital status,
and economic status that prevent some individuals, adult or
juvenile, from exercising rights enjoyed by others.
I-13. Family Planning. The National Education Association
supports family planning, including the right to reproductive
freedom. The Association further urges the implementation of
community-operated, school-based family planning clinics that
will provide intensive counseling by trained personnel.
I-18. Immigration. The Association opposes any immigration
policy that denies human and/or civil rights or educational
opportunities to immigrants and their children regardless of
their immigration status.
I-22. Freedom of Creative Expression. The Association
supports the freedom of publicly funded agencies to exercise
judgment in the awarding of grants to individuals and
I-50. Equal Opportunity for Women. The Association
supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (such as the
Equal Rights Amendment). The Association urges its affiliates
to support ratification of such an amendment. Personnel
policies must include family leave, maternity leave, paternity
leave, leave for adoption of a child, child-care leave, and
professional leave. The Association believes that sexism and
sex discrimination must be eliminated and endorses the use of